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So you’re making content, grinding it out, and publishing on a consistent schedule, but no matter how hard you work, it doesn’t seem to move the needle.

You’re not making sales.

Crickets.

What’s the deal?

That’s what your bank account wants to know.

Something is broken.

I used to be in IT. I ran a computer repair business where we performed on-site services. I’d get a call from a client who said something was “not working.”

I’d drive out to their location and check under the desk. It was “not working” because it wasn’t plugged in.

Something’s not plugged in when it comes to your content strategy.

Highlights, Takeaways, & Quick Wins:
  • If you’re just producing content without selling, you’re not doing content marketing.
  • Connect your content to your products if you want to make sales.
  • If your business can’t run without you, sustaining it relies on your limited time and energy—which means you’re headed toward burnout.
  • Use writing to bridge the gap between each stage of the Buyer’s Journey.
  • If people don’t know you, you need to create content that promotes awareness.
  • If you already have tons of people who know, like, and trust you (but haven’t bought), create content focused on closing the sale.
  • You have to answer the questions people are asking or your content won’t be relevant to your audience.
  • Slowing down content production might help you get your money right and focus on the right things.
  • Tell the story of where someone wants to be, and position your product or service as the thing to get them there.
Show Notes
  • 03:59 Sean: I’m very excited about the Overlap audio book. Yes, the physical book is going to be just incredible. I’m really excited about the physical book, because it’s hard cover. It’s made with the finest quality materials. We’ve worked with the best people at every stage—editing, design, type setting, printers… It’s just going to be so good, but I know that not everyone is going to buy the physical book.
  • 04:26 Yes, we’re going to have an eBook. The type setter formats the eBooks and does all of that stuff, which is awesome, but the audio book is going to be the most popular, at least in the short term. I’m giving it away for free. It’s kind of crazy. By the time this comes out, we are closing pre-orders for Overlap the first half of June. We’re completely shutting it down. That’s the last chance.
  • 05:10 I’m sending the book to people who pre-order it a week early. They’re going to be the very first people to have it. That’s really exciting. It’s exclusive access. We have a pre-order bundle with a limited edition letterpress print. It includes the eBook, the audio book, and the physical book. It’s way less than that’s going to cost normally, if you buy it all individually or at the launch. That pre-order offer is going away in June.
  • 05:39 We’re completely removing pre-orders. You won’t be able to buy the book until it launches. However, instead of selling the audio book, which I’ll eventually sell for $29, I’m giving it to everyone on the newsletters—everyone who is currently subscribed, or if they subscribe before the book launches, I’m giving it to them for free. In the pre-show, Cory said, “Why?” I said, “I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision in hindsight, but I made this promise years ago, that I would give it away.” I’m making good on that promise.
  • Giving away the audio book of Overlap is ultimately going to be a good thing, because I want this to spread.

    I want people to have this book and consume it in whatever format is best for them.

  • 06:28 Ben: I did have a question about that. I remember, a long time ago, you saying that you were going to give this book away. That was crazy in that moment, because we knew at that point that it was going to be a large work, many thousands of words, your best ideas put together in a cohesive package. You were just going to give this away. Then you started to make sense and say, “I’m going to sell the physical copy of the book.” Okay, now Sean’s back in the real world.
  • 07:08 I’m curious about this, though. I had always assumed that the free version that goes out would be the eBook version. Yeah, you do the work of writing all of that out, and there’s a lot of prep that goes into formatting that well and stuff like that, but recording an audio book is work above and beyond the writing of the book. Where the eBook and the printed book are products of the same process, the audio book is a product of that process plus a bunch of other, extra work.
  • 07:44 Sean: It’s a lot of work.
  • 07:47 Ben: I was curious—is there a specific reason you went with the audio book vs. the eBook?
  • 07:55 Sean: I don’t really know. I guess I feel like, if people would like to be able to zoom in, find, and reference particular parts of the book, doing that in written form is a lot easier. I feel like those people might be willing to purchase the book to be able to do that. That made the most sense. I had this cool idea. I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do it. I don’t think it’s ever been done. We have created for our podcast, this podcast, a special configuration of the podcast feed.
  • 08:38 Some of the episodes are free. The most recent episode is free. But the vast majority of the over 500 episodes on the seanwes network are in the Vault for members. Members have a special, unique, protected podcast feed link that they can use. They can grab that and put it in their favorite podcast app, and they get all of the episodes.
  • 09:02 It’s protected. It’s unique to them and their identifier and their subscription. I think that’s really cool. Everyone else gets the generic feed, which is limited. It only has a few episodes. I was thinking, though, that we have this technology and we’ve built this proprietary feed system. When people think of audio books, they think of Audible. What else do you do? I guess you could buy some MP3s, plug in a USB cable, and sync it to your iPod, but that’s so 2000s. I’m considering making it so the people who buy the audio book get a custom, protected feed link to move the audio book chapters into their podcast app.
  • 09:49 All they have to do is copy it, go in their podcast app, and it’s going to say, “Do you want to create a thing based on what’s in your clipboard?” They say yes, and boom! There are all of the chapters of the audio book in your podcast app. No syncing, no MP3s, no USB cables, and it’s a unique link identifier to you.
  • 10:13 Ben: That’s pretty astounding.
  • 10:14 Sean: I think we can do it. It would be pretty sweet. That way, we wouldn’t have to be on Audible to have that seamless, super easy experience. People already use podcast apps.
  • 10:26 Ben: I’m trying to think, is there anything you’d be missing, using the podcast app? Is there anything Audible or Overdrive has that the podcast app doesn’t have?
  • 10:38 Sean: I’m not really comparing between that and Audible. I’m comparing between that and giving people a bunch of MP3s that they have to put in their music. That’s really awkward. We could have the discussion of why I’m self-publishing and why I’m doing it on my platform vs. Audible, but that’s a more complicated topic.
  • 10:58 Ben: I suppose I don’t know what the process is for publishing an audiobook through those platforms, where you’re having to go by their rules.
  • 11:13 Sean: It’s a more complicated topic. I’m pretty excited about the prospect of this custom feed thing, because that would be a pretty sweet experience.
  • 11:23 Ben: That’s really easy.
  • 11:26 Sean: Ben, you’re going to help me tie this in to today’s topic. We were just talking about this in the pre-show and we were like, “This should be the show, where we tell people, ‘I’m giving you the audiobook.'” I’m very excited about that.

Documenting Overlap

  • 11:41 Sean: Let’s talk about some more exciting things, Cory. We’re making a documentary. It’s going to be $29, except we’re giving it away for free, too. Cory has been working on this documentary for nearly a year, and it launches on September 7th, which is exactly one week before the Overlap book launches on September 14th. Coincidence? No. The documentary is called Overlap. I’m going to let Cory share whatever he wants to share.
  • 12:25 Cory: Last year in July of 2016, Sean wrote the Overlap book, which he had been planning on since 2013. He wanted to write the book, but in 2015 he planned that in July of the next year, he was going to write it.
  • 12:39 Sean: 2014, I wrote 20,000 words and then scrapped them.
  • 12:42 Cory: We don’t like to talk about that.
  • 12:44 Ben: Is that going to be in the documentary?
  • 12:47 Cory: Sean doesn’t really know.
  • 12:48 Ben: I can’t believe you guys kept this a secret.
  • 12:51 Cory: I don’t know why we did. Maybe we shouldn’t have.
  • 12:54 Sean: Now, we’re telling people. There are going to be teaser videos for the documentary in July and August.
  • 12:59 Cory: Last year, in 2016, in July, I recorded Sean writing the book, and I asked him questions like, “How did it go today? How many words did you write?”
  • 13:09 I documented Sean writing the Overlap book in 2016. I interviewed him. Right now, I’m working on a documentary about Sean writing this book. We’re really excited to be putting that out. It’s going to be a very fun project. I’m very excited about it.
  • 13:23 Sean: He’s decided to zoom out a little bit from the book writing process. He came to me with this different idea for it recently, where he wants to go a little bit more into my backstory. Is that right?
  • 13:39 Cory: Yeah. I want to dig more into your past, so it makes sense. Your story makes the book even more compelling.
  • It’s cool to write a book and everything, but the backstory is what really makes it powerful.

  • 13:59 We’re excited. It’s going to be good.
  • 14:02 Sean: I felt like sharing this because I’m excited about the book, and that’s what I was working on last week, but today, we’re talking about content marketing for the person who’s frustrated.

Showing Up Every Day

  • 14:14 Sean: This person is making content, grinding it out, publishing on a consistent schedule, and showing up every day, but they’re not making sales. They’re trying to figure out why. It’s crickets. What’s the deal? That’s what their bank account is wondering. You know, I used to be in IT. I had a computer repair business. I would get a call from clients, and they would say, “My computer isn’t working! My device isn’t working! My display isn’t working!”
  • 14:46 I’d drive out—I provided on-site services—and go under the desk, and I would find out that it’s not plugged in. That’s why it wasn’t working. I mean, it’s a cliche, but it totally happened. The cord was just sitting there, not plugged in. That’s really similar to why people are making content and not making sales. Something is simply not plugged in. There’s a missing piece in there, and that’s what we want to talk about today. The more interesting part is how you’ll help me relate giving away Overlap to today’s topic.
  • 15:29 Ben: You’re not just giving away Overlap, you’re also selling it. A big part of what’s going to drive that is what you’re giving away, but you’ve also been publishing content about it through this podcast and through seanwes tv. You’ve been talking about it for a very long time. In the coming months, I think people are going to see a great example of how content can work, of how it is effective, of how it does lead to sales.
  • 16:02 What we’re going to see will demonstrate the power of that. This episode, for me, feels like we’re dissecting that process. We’re taking a look at your computer system, if you will. A computer system is pretty complicated. Yes, you have to be plugged in to power, but you also have to have a wire running from the computer to the screen, unless it’s an iMac. Then it’s built in, and you don’t have to have that. There’s a connection in there somewhere.
  • 16:37 You have to have an operating system running on a hard drive. Oh, by the way, you have to have a hard drive. There are a lot of pieces that need to be functioning, and they all need to be working together. What you’re doing with the Overlap book and the content you’ve been putting out is a great example of all of those pieces being present and functioning together the right way.
  • As we talk about content marketing, I hope people will see what components are missing from their system.

  • 17:15 It’s not this ambiguous, “I’m going to guess at this and hope this works and hope that works…” There really is some black and white to it. You have to have a power cord. It’s about identifying what that power cord is, and then it’s about saying, “That’s why that part isn’t working correctly.”

seanwes conference

  • 17:36 Sean: We had Scott Oldford do a Community workshop called Build Your Sales Funnel. It’s an excellent training there. Glance at the lesson notes for that. I shared some really good stuff. He’s speaking at seanwes conference on sales funnels. He’s a genius, especially if you watch that training. You know what I’m talking about.
  • 18:20 I’m very excited to have him talk about this stuff. We’re going to try and go as far in depth as we can in the scope of one episode, but he’s going to be taking that to the next level. I wasn’t even going to mention it, but when this publishes, if someone listens to this the day it comes out, they still have a chance to go to seanwes.com/conference and save $500 on their registration. They still have a chance. They might have 24 hours if they listen right when it comes out.
  • 18:51 The day after this episode publishes, the price is increasing. We’ve been telling people for the better part of half a year. They’ve been hitting the snooze button, waiting until the last minute, thinking, “Yeah, I want to go. It would be good to get around like-minded people. The speakers look amazing.” Basically all of them are like keynote speakers. It’s going to be a legendary event. They’re like, “I’ll do that at some point.”
  • 19:12 This is the point. If you’ve been thinking about it, this is the time to go register. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Not, “I better do that soon, this weekend.” No. Do it now. Get it done now. I would hate to say that you missed out. Every time, people email us and they’re like, “You closed it?” I’m like, “Yeah, we closed it. We’ve been telling you.”
  • Don’t miss out on seanwes conference in Austin, Texas.

  • 19:47 Last year’s conference was awesome. This year is going to be even better.
  • 19:52 Ben: I can’t imagine that.
  • 19:54 Sean: The theme was Think Bigger, and we thought bigger. You can imagine.
  • 20:01 Ben: I like what you say. I think people are just waiting so they can pay us more money.
  • 20:06 Sean: Hey, that’s fine. We can do some really cool stuff. My hope is that this year, unlike last year, we don’t have to put tens of thousands of our own dollars in to make it happen. We don’t do sponsors. We don’t sell your attention. We don’t do big upsells on the back end. No. We just want cool people to come together and spend some time. It’s that simple. We are dedicated to making this happen.
  • 20:35 If we make what we need to put it on and be sustainable and then we make a little bit more, we’re just putting everything we make back in. We want to make it a great experience. We’re just going to make it even better.

The 2 Components of Content Marketing

  • 20:47 Sean: The first question to ask yourself is, should you even be doing content marketing right now? We’ve touched on this before, but content marketing has two parts: content and marketing. You’re making content. What are some examples of content that people are making?
  • 21:11 Cory: The medium? Videos, talking about their thing.
  • 21:20 Ben: Blogs. Blog articles, newsletters.
  • 21:26 Sean: Sure. Maybe some tutorials. Maybe a free mini course that you’re giving away. A guide. You’re making content, you’re blogging. You’re making videos. You’re giving stuff away. You’re creating epic content and sharing it with people, but you’re not making sales. The marketing aspect is selling. What are you marketing, promoting, or selling?
  • If you’re making content that doesn’t sell, you’re just producing content—you’re not doing content marketing.

  • 22:01 The first thing to realize is that it’s content marketing. There needs to be a selling component. When and how you sell is nuanced, and we’re going to get into that. If you’re just making content, this is the mistake we made. I’ve shared this before, but we made this mistake in 2015. I was making tons of content, and I hired a team around producing content. I figured out the whole delegating thing, not having Superhero Syndrome, and bringing on people to help me do the things I shouldn’t be doing.
  • 22:39 We streamlined a system that wasn’t working. It’s not that it wasn’t working, but it wasn’t sustainable. Maybe, in the long run, people will love our brand so much that they end up buying something, but if we didn’t survive until that point, it wouldn’t matter.
  • If you don’t survive until the reciprocity of the free value you’ve given away and the epic brand you’ve built up pays off, it doesn’t matter.

  • 23:08 You’re done.
  • 23:10 Ben: Let me pose this question. I wonder if there’s some validity to producing content even if you don’t have something to sell yet, as a way of building an audience. I say, “You don’t have something to sell yet,” but I think it’s important to have in mind, at the very least, the market you’d like to serve. You should know the market you want to make products for. You should have some end goal in mind. If you’re overlapping and you’ve got the extra time, and you could potentially put out content indefinitely without it affecting your ability to be able to pay your bills, it takes a lot of patience to build an audience.
  • 24:03 Having a strong audience can also be a very powerful thing when you eventually have something to sell. Having something to sell can also be instrumental in helping you build and grow an audience. I’m wondering about your thoughts on that.
  • 24:19 Sean: Absolutely. To contextualize this episode, I’m speaking to people who have something to sell and who are doing content and not making sales. Let’s try and figure that out. I’m glad you brought up what you did, Ben, because I have two resources for people who resonated with that. The first one is MakeYourFirstProduct.com. If you don’t have a product to sell, if you’re not selling anything and you don’t know, go there. It’s free.
  • 24:49 We give away practically everything. I should listen to this episode. There are some great resources there, some great episodes. We give those to you. If you’re trying to build up your audience and you’re thinking, “Maybe I can use content to build up my audience to figure out what I should sell to them, so I can make it and sell it,” go to AudienceBuildingCourse.com. If you’re wanting to build an audience and you don’t have something to sell, you’re still trying to figure out this content thing, go to AudienceBuildingCourse.com. It’s free. You can go there and sign up.

Should You Even Be Doing Content Marketing Right Now?

  • 25:29 Sean: Today’s episode, though, is for the person who has something to sell. They’ve done it. They’ve gone to MakeYourFirstProduct.com, they’ve followed the instructions, they’ve put it up, they’ve put a price tag on it, and there’s crickets. They’re making content and grinding it out. They’re hustling, and they’re like, “I’m making so much content, but I’m still not making sales!” There’s a disconnect somewhere.
  • 25:52 Jordan mentioned in the chat that Supercharge Your Writing is my copywriting course, and it’s all about connecting the person so the product. Some of the things I’ll be sharing today are from that. You have to connect the dots. If you have a product or a service, a lot of the things we’re talking about today still apply to services today.
  • 26:19 First, figure out whether you should be doing content marketing. This is the first step. Maybe content isn’t the right way to make money right now, in the short term. Maybe, instead, you should be focused on:
    • Building relationships
    • Networking with people
    • Figuring out where your ideal clients/customers are and going there
    • Providing no-strings-attached value
  • 26:43 You need to physically go where your ideal customers and clients are. Sure, digitally, too, like online groups and forums and things like that, but physically go there—conferences, meetups, local events. By providing no-strings-attached value, you’re making yourself known in those places. You’re building up reciprocity and networking. That’s the first thing. Figure out whether or not you should be doing content marketing.
  • 27:07 We did an entire episode on this called Make Money Faster by Not Doing Content Marketing Right Now (And What to Do Instead). Figure out whether or not you should be doing it.

Sales Funnels

  • 27:31 Sean: If you have decided that, “Yes, I am in a place where I should do this. I’m willing to invest in the long game. I have this figured out. I really do want to do this. It’s the right time to focus on sales funnels,” that’s what we’re going to be talking about.
  • Connect your content to your products if you want to sell successfully.

  • 27:51 Like I was mentioning earlier, in 2015, this is what we got wrong. We streamlined the creation of content that existed in isolation. The problem was, it didn’t really connect to an offering. Yeah, we had the Community, but that was back before we rebranded it as seanwes membership. It’s more than a rebrand, because we put a ton of training into the Vault, things like Hiring Bootcamp. That’s not something we give away.
  • 28:26 It actually is $199, and you can buy it at HiringBootcamp.com. 30 Days to Better Writing, the course on building writing habits. That’s $99. All these trainings and things like that are included in membership. They’re all included, including all the episodes and all of the workshops. We added the Vault to membership, so it’s not just the Community. It’s not just the people you meet, the live shows, and the interactions you get multiple times a week.
  • 28:56 It’s a lot more. We shifted things. Back in the day, it was just a Community membership, and most people didn’t see the value in that. Some people did, but a lot of people didn’t. More people see the value of training. That’s just how it is. Back in the day, that was all we had. We were like, “Check out the Community membership,” but other than that, it was like we just created a bunch of content and gave it away.
  • 29:22 Ben: It was five days a week shows, podcasts, five days a week video, all of the articles and newsletters. It was a ridiculous amount of content. It was just, “Go everybody!”
  • 29:38 Sean: It was crazy. The only reason we lasted as long as we did was because I was making money other ways. Podcasting didn’t directly make me money. It didn’t directly make the company any money.
  • 29:53 Ben: What about the sponsors?
  • 29:57 Sean: We don’t do sponsors!
  • 30:01 Ben: I don’t get how we’re still here.
  • 30:05 Sean: That was the problem. I was scrambling on the side, behind the scenes, doing all these other things, these launches and promotions, to make money to sustain what we were doing, that was not sustaining us.
  • When what you’re doing in your business isn’t sustaining you, but you’re sustaining it, it’s reliant on your limited energy and time.

  • 30:28 Eventually, you’re going to burn out. The business has to be sustainable itself. You have to have a solid business model. You have to connect that content to your product. There are three things I want to cover here:
    • What do you sell?
    • Who is it for?
    • What do they want?
  • 30:51 What do you have a price tag on? That’s your product. Who it’s for is the people you’re trying to reach, your target audience. What they want becomes the message you use in your copywriting, your sales pages, and in your content marketing. I’m going to walk through a scenario here.

The Buyer’s Journey

  • 31:18 Sean: Virginia asked, “What is the process to find the holes in your content strategy? If I have a lead magnet, a free opt-in, a paid opt-in, and plenty of free content to lead to those places, how do I break down what I’m doing to find what’s wrong and fix it?” I want to walk through what this looks like. I’m going to give you an example. Hopefully, while listening to this, it will spark some ideas and maybe help you realize, “I don’t have something right there.”
  • 31:50 People are at different stages. Some people don’t know who you are, and you need to help drive awareness. Some people do know who you are, but they’re not to the point of totally trusting you. Other people trust you, they know who you are, but they haven’t bought from you yet. There are these different stages along the Buyer’s Journey that every prospect is at. They’re at different stages. Who knows?
  • 32:15 Think of platforms between these stages. We went to Las Vegas recently, and we saw a Cirque du Soleil show. Incredible. Did the one you saw have moving platforms and stuff, Ben?
  • 32:32 Ben: I’ve never been to see one live. I’ve seen the videos. I’m sure they had something like that.
  • 32:38 Sean: This one had this crazy moving platform on this giant rig. It would move up and spin, move down and tilt, even entirely vertically. These poles would stick out like spikes, and they would climb these poles like they were rock climbing or something. It was crazy. They have these different platforms. They’re jumping between them, and they have people jumping off, falling off down below, to what is, presumably, a net. It’s really incredible, 50 or 60 feet up in the air.
  • 33:12 You have these platforms with gaps in between. Each stage of the Buyer’s Journey is like a platform, and you have people on each platform. You want to advance people from one stage to the next, but there are gaps in between. Most people aren’t Cirque du Soleil performers, so they’re not going to jump from one platform to the next. They’re like, “Where’s my bridge?”
  • Writing bridges the gap between the stages of the Buyer’s Journey.

  • 33:41 You have to have different things at each stage, because those people are at different mindsets, to help them advance to the next stage. That’s where writing comes in. Most people have several of these stages pretty well dialed in. We certainly had great products and great content, but we weren’t converting. Some people have a really great audience that knows them, likes them, and trusts them. Those three things are very important, but they haven’t bought from you.
  • 34:12 Why haven’t they bought from you? The kind of content you need to make for that decision, to bridge the gap, is very specific. It needs to be tailored to those people who know, like, and trust you. You don’t need to generate awareness or establish trust. You need to make a sale. You need to convert. Here’s an example. When I was in Las Vegas, I went to a conference called MicroConf. I did a vlog about it. It’s on the YouTube channel.
  • 34:46 One of the people, and I think it was Russ Henneberry of DigitalMarketer, was talking about how people at different stages search different things. Think about this. You have a problem and you go to Google, and you search your problem. Let’s use our example. At seanwes, we have seanwes membership for people who want to build and grow an audience-driven business. Let’s say someone knows they want to start a business.
  • 35:27 They might google, “How to start a business.” Right? If we’re focused on the awareness stage, we might create content for that question, how to start a business. We could write an article that addresses that, so if someone clicks on your link from Google and comes from you, they’ll be like, “Oh, cool. seanwes, that’s pretty neat.” We don’t have that, by the way. We should.
  • 35:51 Ben: HowtoStartaBusiness.com?
  • 35:52 Sean: No. But that’s generating awareness. “Oh, I’ve never heard of seanwes. Now I know this company exists.” Then you’ve got so many people, tens of thousands of people, who do know we exist, who are aware. On the other end of the spectrum, they might google, “seanwes vs. competitor.”
  • Google “[your brand name] vs”, and see what the google auto complete is.

  • 36:25 Ben: Yeah.
  • 36:25 Sean: Really interesting, right?
  • 36:27 Ben: Google auto complete tells you a lot. It would be fun to get into an episode that goes more into learning about what people are searching for on those specific platforms, and maybe some tools to help you get more information about that.
  • 36:48 Sean: Fortunately, Cory is going to write that down. For someone who is searching your brand name, that’s very interesting. They’re aware of you. They know you, and they’re contemplating a buying decision. They already know you are a possible solution. They’re not convinced you’re the best solution. If they’re googling your brand name, you know something very specific about the stage they’re in, if they’re using your brand name in their search query.
  • 37:23 You want to find out what those questions are. There are some hurdles and hesitations people need to overcome. “I don’t know about this whole seanwes membership thing. Am I actually going to find an accountability partner?” Okay, that’s really interesting. If a lot of people are asking that, maybe we want to create content. If we have 10,000 or 50,000 people who know us, who are not our customers, we don’t need to create awareness content. We need to create, “How you will find an accountability partner when you become a seanwes member” content.
  • 38:08 Ben: It would not make any sense to try to put content about what differentiates seanwes from the competitors in front of somebody who’s never heard of seanwes before.
  • 38:21 Sean: Exactly.
  • 38:23 Ben: They haven’t even had the introduction. They don’t know to ask that question. I was thinking about the computer example, and you don’t put a FireWire cable where a 17 pin should go. You have to use the right cable for the right stage.
  • You have to answer the right questions that people are asking or your content won’t be relevant to your audience.

  • 38:56 Sean: That’s definitely true.

Bridge the Gaps

  • 38:58 Sean: What I really want you to zoom in on is this: identify where you’ve done something right, where your strong areas are. Did you ever play the game Lemmings? Google it, you’ll see what I’m talking about. You have all these Lemmings people, and they automatically start moving. You have to get them to the destination successfully. You can build bridges and all these fun things. There are gaps and stuff, and you can assign a bridge-building roll to a character, a little Lemming, and they’ll build it out—but if you don’t build it in time, they’ll walk right off the cliff.
  • 39:47 To their doom. But, if you’ve got a stage where you have blockers, they stand here with their hands up like a crosswalk guard. They’re like, “No.” If you have two of these blockers like bookended on a platform, the Lemmings all congregate and walk back and forth, back and forth. A lot of people have done really well, to the point where one of their stages has a ton of people in it. They’ve done that really well. Maybe you’ve done the awareness stage well.
  • 40:22 Maybe you’ve done other stages well, and maybe you’ve found yourself with a bunch of people who know, like, and trust you. If so, you should focus your energies on bridging the gap from that stage to making a buying decision. So many of us are spraying content at all of the stages. That’s not necessarily bad from a “Build out your funnel” standpoint, but it’s not purposeful.
  • When you have tons of people who know, like, and trust you who haven’t bought from you, that’s a problem indicative of where you should be creating content.

  • 41:06 They have questions about what you offer that are going unanswered because you’re not creating content about them. That was high level, but I want to walk through a story of this to help you get in that mindset and identify areas where you may have gaps. You have content. Content attracts the person. Think about what they want. It’s obvious stuff. All of this is obvious, but when you put it together in the right order, it gets you in a headspace that can produce breakthroughs.
  • 41:38 Think about what they want. Really think about that. The next thing you’re going to do is to create a lead magnet or a content upgrade (Related: e295 Turn Casual Visitors Into Loyal Customers). Basically, a lead magnet is an additional resource that’s relative to the content they just consumed. This is something to help them ascend to the next level. When you know what they want, you know where they want to go, you know what the next step is after they’ve consumed your content.
  • 42:13 “Read your newsletter. Read your blog post. Watched your video.” You know what the next step is, and that content upgrade, that lead magnet can help your audience get to the next step. It does a couple of other things. In doing this, you’re going to have their email address when they sign up. You now have the ability to follow up with them.
  • When you follow up with your audience via email, present your product or service in a way that solves a problem for them.

  • 42:45 What is the problem that they have? Why are they coming to you? How do you know what their problems are? How do you know what they want or where they want to go? How do you know how to position your product or service in a way that will resonate with them? Let’s look at what you know about this person. First of all, they were interested enough in what you wrote about to sign up for your lead magnet. The lead magnet defines the prospect. If you don’t know what your prospects are interested in, your lead magnet is too generic.
  • 43:21 It’s too broad. It was something that you thought, “This will get subscribers,” and maybe it has, but the result is that you don’t know a lot about them. It wasn’t specific. You want to get incredibly specific with the sign up incentive you’re offering. When you do this, you know the people that sign up have that very specific interest. You can now customize your follow-up messages to them. You know something about them, so every message feels like you’re reading their mind.

The Power of Story Telling

  • 43:54 Sean: When you know the problem they face, you’ll be able to more accurately present your product or service as the solution to that problem. You’re doing this through storytelling. You’re doing this to help them know, like, and trust you. All of this can happen through your writing. You can bring in some various forms of different media. I write. I have a welcome email that links to podcasts. I send follow-up videos. Whatever media they enjoy most, I’m trying to provide that. Everything starts with writing. You’re bridging the gap with writing.
  • Storytell from where your audience is to where they want to be, and position your product or service as the thing that gets them there.

  • 44:44 Ben: It’s really interesting. When you mentioned using other forms of content as a part of that storytelling, if you’ve been creating content for a really long time, you may have the pieces of a story that you need to help them get from where they are to where they want to be. You can really easily fill that in with whatever happens to be missing from that narrative. For somebody who has been creating a lot of content and hasn’t been getting sales, you probably already have some pieces there.
  • 45:24 I’m encouraged there that I don’t necessarily have to start from scratch and try and put something new together, especially if I have been creating content for a specific audience to address a specific need.

Examples

  • 45:41 Sean: For those listening live, I just asked in the chat if that helped you identify some areas where you have gaps. I’d love to hear some specific examples. If you give me specific examples of gaps you found or what product you sell or who you’re trying to reach, I’d be happy to give you very specific advice on the air. Maybe we can go to Cory. You get all the free advice, since you’re here. Would you like to make sales? Are you making sales?
  • 46:17 Cory: Sure! No. I don’t really… I have a product, but I don’t want to sell it.
  • 46:24 Sean: See that mute switch there? I’m just kidding. Ben, do you have a product that you would like to sell?
  • 46:37 Ben: I don’t have a product. I have a service, and I’m also helping Rachel sell a product.
  • 46:46 Sean: Would that be a good example?
  • 46:49 Ben: Yeah.
  • 46:50 Sean: Tell me more about the product. I’m also going to keep an eye on the chat. Tell me some more about it.
  • 47:00 Ben: It’s middle grade fantasy fiction, written specifically for the 9 to 12 year old age range. Currently, we do a lot of social media marketing. We had been doing some video but weren’t seeing a lot of results from that. What has been the most successful are the lead magnets that are set up through the website and some of the traffic that comes to that from her blogging and sharing on other platforms.
  • 47:38 It all comes back through there. As soon as she has those emails, the automations that are set up have been the most effective in converting people and getting them to purchase the books. It has been tough, though. For a long time, it seemed like none of that stuff was working. Even now, it still feels like something isn’t quite dialed in right to where we’re seeing the kind of results we want.
  • 48:12 Sean: Okay, a few questions. Who is the target audience for the book?
  • 48:19 Ben: This is a tough one, because the books are for that age range, but the people actually buying the books are the parents. What we’re trying to sell are a couple of things. One, the love of reading. It’s character-building. A parent loves anything they can expose their children to that helps them build character. These books are meant to instill a love of reading. They’re meant to build character and teach values. They’re also just enjoyable stories.
  • 49:01 It’s something the family can enjoy together. We’re selling to parents, and those are the things we’re trying to sell. We’re trying to sell a better version of your kids, the things you want for your children. That’s what we’re trying to sell—and the things you want for your family.
  • 49:18 Sean: I really like that. That’s super good. Maybe a headline or something would be, “Get your kids excited about reading,” something like that. Okay. Do you feel like that’s working, like that’s resonating with people?
  • 49:38 Ben: To be honest, I don’t know if we’re using that message enough. I think we’ve been relying on the story itself a little bit too much. A lot of that messaging is in the email automation, and part of the question I have is, when I’m thinking about buying a book, personally, I’m thinking about the story before I think of anything else. I’m looking for genre and an interesting premise. Those kinds of things.
  • 50:17 As a consumer, when I think about it, it makes sense to me to try and sell the book based on the story, vs. based on what we’re really wanting to sell to parents. That’s where it’s difficult, because we’re not selling to the child. The child may browse around, see that, be interested, and say, “Hey, can you get this book for me?”
  • 50:42 Sean: I’ve got a lot of things. Going from top to bottom.
  • People need to know you exist.

  • 50:50 They need to know you’re a writer. They need to know you have a book. They need to be aware of you. After that, they need to come to a point where they know, like, and trust you. People will buy a Stephen King book because it’s a Stephen King book. That’s being known, liked, and trusted. You do that through sharing the process, the journey, your story, a story about the story, where the story came from, and being authentic.
  • 51:20 Then, you’re going to have a pool of people who know, like, and trust you. You want to sell a product to them. This product is not necessarily for them. It’s for their kid. Your messaging needs to be around their kid. “Get your kid reading again. Get your kid excited about reading.” Besides trying to reach the person who’s going to make the buying decision or the person who influences the buying decision—sometimes, a person is out there reading content and watching your videos, but they don’t actually make the buying decision.
  • 52:04 When it’s over a certain dollar amount, they have to convince their boss. This is a little bit nuanced, because they’re the person you have to convince to want this product, but they’re not the person who makes the final decision. An example of content you might want to create is ammunition for the influencer of the buying decision to use to convince the person who makes that final decision. For instance, we have people we want to sign up for seanwes membership.
  • 52:35 We identified that a large problem is that their spouse doesn’t understand the value of it. “Why are you buying into this thing? It doesn’t make sense. What’s the return?” We would want to create content that gives them ammunition to get their spouse on the same page with this buying decision. For instance, you may want to get content around how you would get your kid excited about reading X book. Those are a few things.
  • 53:05 Ben: This would be playing around with it a little bit, but something like, “10 reasons you can tell your parents to buy you the Fairendale books.” It seems like it’s directed to the kids, but really it’s the parents who will see that and think, “What is this about?” That could be kind of a sneaky way of doing that.
  • 53:32 Sean: Yeah. That also brings up an interesting topic, though. In your case, I presume, middle grade kids aren’t reading the blog.
  • 53:40 Ben: No. You’re not really trying to sell to kids.
  • 53:45 Sean: In some cases, though, like with toy car commercials, they run on TV between cartoons they know kids are watching, and they’re geared towards getting the kid to convince the parent to buy. You have to figure out your angle and who you’re trying to reach.
  • If you’re selling to someone for someone else, you could approach that from both angles, but it changes the type of content marketing you’re doing.

  • 54:11 Ben: On the one side, there’s the content that’s geared toward the bigger vision of what the books are about, the values, and all of that. Then, a lot of the content we’re producing also expands on the world of these books. It goes more in depth on specific characters. That’s where some of the blog content is, and we’ve seen that example through the Harry Potter books. There are tons of books and all kinds of content out there that dives deeper into that world.
  • 54:52 Kids eat that stuff up. When they find something they really enjoy, it’s a natural progression into wanting to see more. When you see something from the outside and you can sense from the kind of content that exists that it’s a rich world, that’s really attractive. That’s part of what we’re trying to do, that is somewhat directed to the kids.
  • 55:22 Sean: Jordan in the chat says, “Ben, could you make videos that the kids might watch on YouTube?”
  • 55:30 Ben: Yeah. We might do that. We did a video thing for a long time. It was multi-faceted, directed toward a lot of different things, so that’s ultimately why we decided to take a break from it. Rachel would like to do some kind of vlog or something where she takes people into the world of the books a little bit more and talks about them. She has a Renaissance dress, a costume, and I told her that I thought it would be really fun for her to dress up as the narrator.
  • 56:09 She could talk about the book that way. I don’t know how we would make that specifically something that communicates, “This is for your kids, for entertaining kids specifically of this age range,” but that’s a really interesting idea.

Teach to Reach Clients

  • 56:23 Sean: A couple of questions here. Felippe says, “If you provide services to end clients, should you focus your content creation on serving those client’s questions, or should you look for teaching a community and share your knowledge with those in the industry? Is there any sweet spot?” I think you certainly can do both, but when you teach, you’re answering both. You’re demonstrating your expertise through teaching, which will indirectly answer clients’ questions.
  • 56:57 Ben: Remember that video I made about this on the white board, and I animated the circles?
  • 57:05 Sean: It’s vaguely familiar.
  • 57:07 Ben: Someone had a similar question, Kyle or maybe Cory. I was trying to illustrate that if you have two circles, one being content geared toward your end customer, it’s a smaller circle, because there’s a smaller group of people who will identify with that. Content geared toward teaching has a much wider circle, but inside that circle are also people who will become customers.
  • 57:48 That’s just from the people who are potential students. Also, people will see that you’re teaching that, see that you’re an expert, and they have no desire to learn about how to do it, but they see that expertise, and that builds trust. What you can potentially get out of clients from teaching is equal to or greater than what you can get just by producing content for clients. But why not do both?
  • 58:27 Sean: Yeah, I would say, why not do both?
  • By teaching, you’re also reaching clients.

  • 58:35 You have to think about the client’s mindset. Zoom outside of yourself. You’re just trying to create content and get jobs, but think about the client’s mindset and what they’re trying to do here, what they want. They want to solve a problem. There are many ways to solve problems, one of which is doing it yourself. Do the work. Figure it out. Look up some tutorials. The other is hiring a professional to do it.
  • 59:03 You’re the professional. You want them to hire you. However, you have to realize that initially, they may be thinking about solving their own problem. They may actually be searching for education, training, tutorials, or guides on how to solve their own problem. For instance, I subscribe to a newsletter where this guy talks about copywriting. He tells some great stories and it’s also entertaining. It’s also educational. At the very bottom of the newsletter, it says, “Hey, you want to work together? I’d be happy to help you plan out your campaign.”
  • 59:38 You know what? For someone like me in the mindset of a person who knows how to do copywriting and is wanting to always better my skills and learn, sometimes I get to the bottom of the newsletter and I’m like, “Man, it would be kind of nice just to have this guy do all of it for me.”
  • 01:00:06 Ben: Cory, what’s the name of that YouTube channel where they give film making tips? Film Riot. That’s what it is. Have you heard of Film Riot?
  • 01:00:18 Sean: Yes, I have. There are a lot of channels, though.
  • 01:00:19 Ben: I know. There are tons. I mentioned them because of what you said—story-telling, entertaining… Film Riot is very entertaining, very informative, very thorough. Producing my own video content now, knowing some of what goes into that, I’m astounded at what they put together and the quality of it. It’s really top-notch. I appreciate it from the standpoint of being a student, someone who’s trying to learn all of those things.
  • 01:01:02 I can’t imagine that they haven’t gotten business from putting those videos out and teaching people how to make video content. As they’re doing it, they’re demonstrating the quality of their work as well, because it’s fun and entertaining. It’s stuff that I would want to share with other people. It has word of mouth going for it. You definitely can’t lose, going that route.

Create a Fear of Missing Out

  • 01:01:40 Sean: Miles in the chat just said, “I can’t tell you how many times my kid has come to me excited about something he saw—a YouTuber or an influencer—and asked me to buy for him.” It’s really interesting, given how much things have changed. You have people who have built up a following and an audience, and brands and companies that could buy advertising consider not spending it on ads, and instead spend it on influencers.
  • 01:02:11 They have a such a hold on whatever demographic they want to reach. They influence those buying decisions. People are watching them, and they’re like, “I want that. I want to be that. I want to have that. I want to do that.” They go and buy. It’s really interesting to me. It’s something we try and do when we try and sell seanwes membership. It’s like, “Hey, it solves this problem for you.”
  • 01:02:38 For instance, whether you want to build a writing habit, learn to price on value, stop hating client work, sell a product, launch a course, or find an accountability partner—it solves all of these problems. You want to hire, build a team for yourself, create processes, build a sales funnel, grow your email list… We’re helping people with all of the facets of building an audience driven business. If you have questions, we probably have content that answers that.
  • 01:03:09 If we don’t, there is also the live, real-time, in-person component of the Community. Life shows. Get your questions answered on the air. Felippe says, “Thanks for answering my question, Sean.” It’s kind of like office hours, in a way. However, that’s all geared towards solving a problem. You have this problem, here’s the solution. At seanwes, in addition to solving problems, we also try to show what it’s like to be in the Community.
  • 01:03:43 We share things like content from seanwes conference, other members, or having them on the shows. We have a member-only show every week called Fired Up Mondays. It’s a really fun show that Aaron does, and he’s been having members on that show. That’s really great. He wants to have more. We shared more information about that in the latest Fired Up Mondays conversation.
  • 01:04:09 Those of you listening live, he put his contact information in there if you want to be on that show. We should do more of that, public-facing, where we have members, we promote what they’re doing and what they’re about, and we also talk about the Community. Right now, I just had a conversation with people in the live chat. Thousands of people listen to this podcast, and they miss out on everything that’s going on right here, all of this conversation, everything that happens before the podcast starts and everything that happens 24/7 in between the podcasts.
  • 01:04:42 They miss out on all of that. You’re creating this kind of FOMO that Miles’ kid is experiencing when he watches the YouTuber. He’s like, “I want that. I want to be part of this group. I want to be part of something bigger. I want to get around like-minded people who believe in me and what I’m doing. I’m not finding that with my friends and family.” You can approach these things from different angles beyond solving a problem.
  • 01:05:18 Ben: I was looking back at the chat. It’s such an amazing experience having the people here in the chat listening live, being able to interact with them. It completes the whole podcast experience, so much that I got completely distracted by it and I was pulled out of the moment. I love the idea of creating that fear of missing out. One of the most powerful pieces of content you can share is testimonials from people who aren’t part of your brand, but who have experienced your brand and your product, telling the story.
  • 01:06:06 Sometimes, if your product isn’t selling and you’re missing that component, it’s worth going to the people who have been your most loyal audience members or customers and saying, “Hey, I really want others to hear what it’s like to have experienced this product. You seem to be someone who’s really connected to this brand. Can I give you something, and you just write a review or share a testimonial?” Something like that.

Leave a Review

  • 01:06:39 Sean: Speaking of that, remember when people use to leave iTunes reviews, back in the day? On a mobile device, for instance, they would type, seanwes.com/itunes, and it opens up in the podcast app. You can literally tap, “Write a review,” and type a few words like you would a text message, and hit the button. I think people maybe thought you had to download this iTunes program on your desktop.
  • 01:07:10 They’re like, “No, I’m on the go. I’m busy, I can’t do that.” Ben, they would actually do this! At one time, many years ago. People would go to seanwes.com/itunes and leave a positive review for this show to say, “This is worth your time, browser, who has come across this random podcast. It is worth your time.” Maybe they’re so short on time that they just leave five stars. They don’t leave a custom message, but they leave a gentle nudge of endorsement.
  • 01:07:44 Ben: Star power. Could you, for instance, put the cursor where you leave your review, and that little microphone pops up, and could you press that and speak it?
  • 01:07:57 Sean: Even more than that. You could literally put emojis and nothing more.
  • 01:08:05 Ben: Wow.
  • 01:08:07 Sean: I have bad news for you. I hate to break it to you, but apparently, the iTunes review system has been broken for many years. That’s the only reason I can think that literally no one has left a review in so long. It was good while it lasted. We have one more question.

When to Press Pause on Creating Content

  • 01:08:33 Sean: Kyle says, “If you realize you’re not making money because the majority of your audience can’t buy what they need from you, is it better to: Stop producing content and make the thing. Or, keep producing content and take a bit longer to release the thing?” This is an interesting one to me. We’ve kind of chosen the latter. We’ve decreased our content. We were going crazy for a while there. It didn’t make sense. We had literally no capacity to do anything else, like write a book or produce courses.
  • 01:09:17 We’ve limited that while, behind the scenes, we are making the things. But I don’t know. I’m not saying that’s the right answer. We’ve talked about this. When Aaron was here, we were like, “Should we stop podcasting?” We paused seanwes tv. Should we just completely stop, and much more quickly build up what we need to build, and then come back?
  • 01:09:59 Honestly, I’m not going to say that’s a bad option. It’s not necessarily for us. We have, apparently, chosen not to do that. It might be good for other people.
  • 01:10:12 Ben: It seems like it was a little bit of a pendulum. So much free content, and then stopping putting out anything public. It feels like it’s starting to swing back the other way a little bit. It doesn’t feel as much like an over-correction as it does an experiment.
  • 01:10:35 Sean: Are you talking about us?
  • 01:10:36 Ben: Yeah.
  • 01:10:37 Sean: No, I don’t think that describes us. A pendulum swing would be where everything’s free and then, suddenly, nothing is free. You shut off the content production and you go build your thing that you’re going to do. We didn’t do that. That’s what Kyle is asking.
  • Pausing free content to create something to sell isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do.

  • 01:10:58 Ben: That wasn’t a good example. What I was trying to extract from that was the experimentation. How much can you pull back and still maintain an acceptable growth curve?
  • 01:11:14 Sean: That’s what interests me. Look at Casey Neistat. Daily vlog. Every day. Seven days a week. Months, months, months–almost a year. Daily, insane. Then, he stopped. He literally stopped. When you stop content production, you cease to exist, for the most part. You drop from being top of mind and people are not going to think about you. You have to stay relevant if you want to stay top of mind.
  • 01:11:46 However, it kind of allowed him to set himself up for a more sustainable output. He sold his company. He did a lot of things behind the scenes. He was able to build those things up, and you’re going to experience a dip, where you say, “For the next six months, I’m not going to do content. I’m going to make the thing,” that dip is going to be hardly consequential. For instance, I had nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram.
  • 01:12:22 I had 98.6. I was almost there, Ben. This was in the season where we had everything wrong. We needed to stop. Creating content, even for Instagram, took a lot of time. Coming up with quotes, designing those graphics, scheduling them out, writing the captions… It was a lot of work. I was doing it daily. I said, “Alright. I’m done.” Stop. In the time that has lapsed since I was actively posting, and it’s been half a year or more, I have lost followers.
  • 01:12:57 I have lost several thousand followers. When I go back and I’ve recently posted on Instagram Stories on my account at seanwes, I did a little story with Aaron about recording the audio book, and that day, I lost 200 followers. It was in the same day from posting the story. I lost hundreds of followers, presumably, because people are like, “Who’s this guy? I don’t remember.” I’ve fallen off of top of mind, or for whatever reason.
  • 01:13:28 It’s down to 92 or 91,000 in the grand scheme of things, I went from 96,000 followers, which is an incredible number, to 92,000 or 91,000 followers. How bad is that? In the meantime, I’ve written a book. We’ve repositioned membership entirely. We’ve launched a conference. We have a second conference coming up. We’re 80% of the way toward having evergreen sales funnels in place for all of our programs that we’ve been making for the past several years. We still have a great podcast.
  • Slowing down content production has been the right thing for us, because it has allowed us to get our money right and focus on the right things.

  • 01:14:15 We can focus on the things we need to be building. As soon as all of that is in place, as soon as the sales funnels are in place, because that’s all set and ready to go, we can then go back to ramping up content production. I wanted to do it sooner in 2017. I thought 2017 was going to be the big year, but even if it’s 2018 or 2019, we’re going to come back in full force. We are going to go back to daily content, every single day. We will be top of mind all the time. Constantly. That’s where we’re going. It took pulling the rubber band back to set us up for that launch forward.
  • 01:14:55 Ben: Yeah, that makes sense.
  • 01:14:57 Sean: I don’t know if that gives you anything to think about, Kyle. He says, “Who’s Casey Neistat again?”
  • 01:16:06 Cory: I can’t really speak to this. I don’t have a product. My takeaway is to get a product, and then put content around it.
  • 01:16:17 Sean: MakeYourFirstProduct.com.